Spring Training Additions and Subtractions
With the most recent rounds of roster cuts coming out of Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training, the 2018 Durham Bulls continue to take shape. The Rays reduced their roster size to 35 with a flurry of moves Sunday sending pitchers Kyle Bird, Ian Gibaut, Cody Hall, Adam Kolarek, Ryne Stanek, Colton Murray, plus catchers Xorge Carrillo and Johnny Monell to the minors.
The Bulls are a part of the fourth ranked minor league system by MLB.com, so finding top flight talent isn’t difficult. A top prospect headed for Durham is left-handed pitcher Anthony Banda. Banda, 24, was ranked as the Rays’ №16 prospect by MLB.com after he was acquired in the Steven Souza Jr. trade this past winter. Banda was near the top in multiple pitching categories in the Pacific Coast League in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization with Reno last season including third in batting average against at .266. Up until now, Banda has appeared in just 6.0 spring training innings over four games, allowing four hits and five walks to 28 batters.
Added to the arsenal of arms in the ‘pen is LHP Adam Kolarek. Kolarek, 29, posted a 1.65 ERA over 41 appearances with Durham in 2017. Kolarek, a familiar face in the Bull City, brings a high strikeout rate, recording 46 strikeouts compared to just 16 walks last season.
Stanek, 26, became the third ‘Ryne’ to ever play in the ‘bigs’ last season and appears to be heading back to Durham at the beginning of the year. Stanek made 37 appearances with Durham and split time in the majors after making his ML debut with Tampa Bay on May 14 of last season.
With all of this talented pitching, the Bulls need experienced backstops and the most recent roster moves by the Rays have given Durham a pair of experienced catchers, Xorge Carrillo and Johnny Monell.
Carrillo, 28, was signed as a free agent in January and is expected to provide depth in the Rays’ minor league system at the catcher position. Carrillo hit .270 with Triple-A Las Vegas last season, posting a career-high 44 RBI and will provide valuable experience behind the plate for the Bulls.
Monell, 32, is fresh off a stint in the Puerto Rican Winter League and the Korean Baseball Organization over the past year. He returned stateside to the professional ranks for the first time since 2016, when he was with the New York Mets organization in Las Vegas, where he hit .276 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI.
One big question will be whether the Bulls are going to carry three catchers with Adam Moore still in Rays’ camp. Could Moore join the trio here in Durham? The Rays’ catching depth chart seems to be set in stone, as far as the Bulls are concerned this could be a positional battle to watch heading toward opening day.
As the roster becomes clearer with the Rays, so does the Durham Bulls as we begin the final two weeks of Spring Training. Durham will look to utilize Tampa Bays’ top talent to make a run at another Triple-A National Championship in 2018.